Monday, December 29, 2008

On the English Survival with Style

John Ray, a strong friend of the State of Israel, runs the excellent Dissecting Leftism Blog that I requently read. Recently he published a series of articles on the fate of the Jews and the survival of the English...The articles can be found on

Here is my reply - Part I

To John

I am a regular reader of your blog, as mentioned in earlier correspondence, and have much admiration for your way of thinking especially your strict adherence to logic and reason. While I don’t agree with you on some points (usually economics) I find your insight into history refreshing. It’s a shame that you have received some abuse (probably from a few of my co-religionists) with respect to the ‘Success of the Jews’ theme that you have been expanding on but cooler heads are too often a rarity these days.

Nevertheless I wish to add some objections to your core thesis that agues that the English have survived in style for the last millennium and a half. While on the surface this carries with it an apparent truism it overlooks the fact that English history, despite a popular misconception, has not been in and of itself peaceful. Looking at the period after 1066 (the time when England was last successfully invaded) Albion has witnessed on local soils rebellions by the Saxons against Norman Feudalism, the Baron Wars, Peasant Rebellions, the War of the Roses (which really spanned the era between Richard II and Henry VII), the English Civil War, the Jacobite War and the insurrection of Monmouth. If one adds in the American Revolution (which for all intent of purpose can be looked at as an internal struggle between English speaking people) it is evident that the English have had a long history of warring amongst themselves.

In addition if you add in the numerous English lives (mostly commoners) that have been lost in the pursuit of Empire on a global basis –not to mention those lives foregone in conflicts with Spain, the Netherlands, France, Scotland, Denmark, the United States etc – the idea of surviving with style, at least how it reflects down to the bulk of the populace, is found wanting.Now I will not deny the fact the English have been very successful in transmitting their culture on a worldwide basis. The dominance of the English language and systems of education and governance attest to this phenomenon but it has come at a price which I believe cannot be swept so easily under the proverbial rug.The English are a very admirable people (I have been somewhat of an anglophile for most of my life although my enthusiasm has waned as of late as British institutions which I once respected continue to shed ground to the Stealth Jihad) but the accident of geography that has afforded them island status clearly played a large role in their success (yes the Scots and Welsh could harass the English but by shear force of number were unlikely to ever win the upper hand….).

Winston Churchill was correct in arguing that the island situation was an advantage that could not last forever and that Britain would need to work on establishing alliances to ensure survival. This was not a novel idea at the Empire level (regional alliances with the Iroquois, the Basuto, the Sikhs were common) but in the more critical area of European politics it was particular loathsome to the English mindset. After the Napoleonic Wars and the obvious realization that the European Powers (Russia, Prussia and Austria) were intent on turning back the forces of liberalism and nationalism (via the Concert System) Britain retreated into a type of ‘splendid isolation’ where it focused on growing its Empire alone without outside interference. With the possible exception of the Crimean War this attitude characterized British geo-politically thinking up to the Second Anglo Boer War.

It was only after the South African conflict, where British resources were stretched to breaking point by the guerilla tactics of well organized militia that the need for global allies would become a necessity. In fact one can pinpoint this change in policy to the signing of the Anglo-Japanese Agreement of 1902, a framework that set the foundation for the Entente Cordiale with France and the Anglo-Russian Entente.However even in this regard the Brits were slow to the post, for one the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy was already well established. Germany also had cultivated an ally in the Ottoman Turks. One could even argue (with hindsight) that Britain’s decision to enter into a system of alliances and thereby join the trend was ultimately what caused the weakening of the Empire by forcing London to engage in a vortex of events leading to the disastrous Great War (although I suspect that you will argue otherwise using the pretext that the growing influence of German Naval Power made war inevitable).

I believe that the success of the English people resides with a combination of factors. They are a very resourceful people (their pragmatic creativity during the First Industrial Revolution and beyond bears this out) but so does a commitment to the free inquiry. The former has its structural origins in the English Reformation, but was further augmented by the battle against autocracy during the Civil War and the Hanoverian transfer of power during the reign of George I. These changes were not as forthcoming amongst Britain/England’s continental rivals who were forced to delay the coming of modernism to the Enlightenment Period.

However what has most served the English is their ability to adapt – to take the best from the outside and make it somehow English. They did this with the Roman system of laws, Grecian Rationalism, Judeo-Christian Ethics, Stoicism and Iberian naval proficiency. It is this same characteristic that the family branch of the English, the Americans, have utilized with remarkable success today (Another island nation the Japanese are similar to the English in this regard).

It is this adaptation that has created the illusion that the English have resisted invasion. While no army since William the Conqueror have overwhelmed the English on the home front since the 11th century (although the Hungarians humbled the English football team at Wembley in the 1950s) it is equally true that the English monarchy has resided in the hands of foreigners since then. The Normans were of a Franco/Norse stock, the House of Plantagenet, and its spin offs in Lancaster and York were all Gallic, the Tudors were Welsh, The Stuarts - Scottish and Hanover, Saxe-Coburg and Windsor were/are all German. Yes not since the ill-fated Harold Godwinson (aka Harold II) has England had a monarch of English ethnicity and before that power was invested for some time with Danish kings such as Canute and Hardicanute.

What is most remarkable though is that within a short period the English turned these foreigners into extensions of England itself… that their ethnicity is more a matter of historical detail than anything else.

However with each addition and influx of change a point of saturation is neared. Changes are rarely neutral with respect to key factors. The utility of adaptation carries with it a double-edged outcome. At what point in a series of changes is the system or the people no longer English?

British Internationalism, the overriding policy of adaptation, that dominates the nation in 2008 is a consequence of this underlying tendency, however in subjecting itself to the relativism of multiculturalism the Brits seem to have shot the bolt and traded away the base in one foul swoop. Could it be that the English will simply whither away? Over adapted themselves to death? …Maybe there is a grace in this style but I am at a loss to find it. I am working on the Jewish side of the argument and will send you a reply soon……….


Gavin Kanowitz

Saturday, November 22, 2008

On a White President in South Africa


Taken from Article by: Sandile Memela

The ANC’s commitment to non-racialism is unquestionable but it may need another 100 years to deliver a white president. This is not a problem of the organisation’s principles and ideals per se. Instead, it is the legacy of colonialism and apartheid.
Of course, when it first started out in 1912, the ANC was an exclusive African liberation movement. Its primary purpose was the total liberation of African people. So, whoever joined the organisation later was required to put the interests of African people, first.
What that means is that if you were Indian, coloured or white who joined the ANC, you accepted that you were part of the family because you truly believed that Africans had a right to self-determination, especially the leadership of their own indigenous organisation.
Significantly, in the late 1950s, the ANC experienced an ideological split when Robert Sobukwe suspected that non-Africans exerted too much influence and thus were taking over the leadership of the ANC. According to him, this compromised the rights of Africans to fight for the return of their land and for political self-determination. As far as Sobukwe was concerned, this South Africa was, essentially, a black man’s country and whoever chose to live and die here would do so under the terms of African people.
In the 1950s the ANC would not budge from non-racialism and thus Sobukwe was allowed to leave with those who did not buy into the notion of non-racialism. Thus in 1959 the PAC was launched.
The ANC survived it first major split and grew stronger because of its unwavering commitment to non-racialism. In fact, it was African nationalists in the ANC who suggested that Indians, coloureds and whites should organise themselves (along racial lines,) first, to join what later became known as the Congress Alliance. But this was a partnership that would, primarily, work towards African liberation and political liberation.

For the rest go to the source

Those almost Jewish Puritans


by Ted Roberts

Why is it important for us American Jews of 2008 to know that in 1649, a Puritan couple, asked for a repeal of Edward I's Act of Jewish banishment - in effect for 350 years?The key fact is their Puritanism - a form of Christianity - that accented the Old Testament and drove them to sympathy with Judaism. It was the core of the faith of those who founded our America.All this reminds me of the best theological secret of the past millennium - especially to Jews. It concerns those wandering, persecuted Puritans. Strange people. Revolutionary in their religious beliefs. They loved the Old Testament - our Humash - unanimously swear to it.Before you slice into your traditionally rare, half-done turkey, next Thanksgiving give a thought to those strange birds, the Pilgrims. What a rare breed they were - typical of the exotics who stand the world on its head. Hacking, sniffing, trembling with chills in the late New England Fall, they sat down to the first Thanksgiving. They gave thanks, as we do, before every meal. More prayerful than usual because it was their Seder equivalent. And so what if half of them had fluttered skyward that year? Those celestial beings were happier than the earthy survivors, since they were wrapped in warm clouds and dined to their full at heavenly tables. So, laugh and dance like the Chasids. You see, they believed in Heaven.The secret of their Jewish leanings is not widely known to most rabbis and their flock. These alienated folks left the 17th Century urbanity of London for the stone-cold wilderness of savage North America. The "New Zion", they called it - does that give you a clue? "The Puritans' mania for the Old Testament developed directly out of their experience of persecution by the established church." So says the renowned historian Barbara Tuchman in her 1957 book Bible and Sword.. She verifies my vague suspicions that our American forefathers were SO Jewish that you wonder why the old pictures don't show them in yarmulke and tiffilin.

According to Tuchman, fleeing persecution, the Puritans saw themselves as 16th Century Israelites; named their kids Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Rebecca. Did you know that the seal of Yale and Harvard is in Hebrew of all things. "They paid a respect to the Hebrew language that they refused to the language of their gospels...." Tuchman tells us. Even McCauley, the greatest of English historians, rants about their "Hebraic leanings". It was no secret - they flew the flag of Moses and metaphorically, culturally waged war with episcopal Christianity. Another historian, Cunningham, sums it up neatly: "The general tendency of Puritanism was to discard Christian morality and to substitute Jewish habits in its stead".

For the rest go to the source

A Quick Look at Piracy

Taken from Source:

Pirate is a forgiving word. Thanks to at least two centuries of British and American romanticism - Lord Byron to Johnny Depp - it implies a man (or in two famous instances, a woman) who is not wholly bad and many moral levels professionally above footpads, rapists and serial killers. For instance, is there an epoch known to historians as the Golden Age of Rape? No, but sometimes in books about buccaneers you will find the Golden Age of Piracy, which in British terms lasted from the 1650s till about 1725.
In some respects, the pirates of Somalia are behaving in the classic tradition. According to reports, they are spending millions of dollars of ransom money on imported food, alcohol, drugs and prostitutes, just as predecessors debauched and befuddled themselves whenever possible with tobacco, rum and whoring. In other ways, though, their behaviour (so far) matches the romantic ideal rather than the brutal reality.
More than 200 kidnapped sailors are being well looked after on a dozen hijacked ships that have been moored at the fishing port of Eyl; or, in the case of the Sirius Star, their biggest prize, a few hundred miles down the Somali coast at Harardheere. No harm has been done to them. What their captors want are dollars from the ships' owners, not the blood of their crews. With this in mind, a Somali pirate with historical leanings might scoff at the outrage of David Miliband and consider the case of Thomas Avery, whose old exploits in the present Somali hunting ground, the Gulf of Aden, make modern piracy look like peacetime manoeuvres by a marine branch of the Fabian Society.
According to the historian David Cordingly's account, in his book Life Among the Pirates, Avery was a typical British pirate - "of middle height, rather fat, with a dissolute appearance". He was born in Plymouth in 1653, served in the Royal Navy, and then seized command (the captain was drunk at the time) of an English privateer - a privately owned ship licensed by the government to attack the state's enemies. By 1695, he was prowling at the entrance to the Red Sea waiting for the pilgrim fleet that sailed every year from India to Mecca, filled with valuables, because pilgrimage was also an opportunity to trade, and protected by the heavily armed ships of the Great Mogul in Delhi. Avery got lucky. One of his cannonballs dismasted the Great Mogul's flagship, which was not only carrying piles of gold and silver but also many slave girls and, it was said, one of the Great Mogul's daughters. What Cordingly calls "an orgy of rape, torture and plunder" lasted days and Avery's crew got away with the equivalent of £1,000 each.
The English government was embarrassed - it needed to preserve the East India Company's relationship with the Mogul emperor - and eventually caught six of the pirates and had them hanged. Avery himself vanished; rumour suggests he died in poverty in Devon, rather like Ben Gunn at the end of Treasure Island who spent a thousand pounds in 19 days and was "back begging on the twentieth". Like most pirates, Avery was an amoral opportunist who switched easily among the blurred divisions between privateering, buccaneering and sailing as a navy or merchant seaman (by the end of the 17th century the average age of a pirate was 27 - roughly the same as Somalia's modern pirates - and almost all had begun their working lives in the Royal Navy or on cargo ships).
Still, his legacy was profound: you might even argue that he began the process that enabled the careers of Byron's Corsair, Long John Silver, Captain Hook and Errol Flynn, and has brought us to the recently announced Pirates of Caribbean, Part IV. A now obscure dramatist, Charles Johnson, took the story of Avery's barbarous raid in the Gulf of Aden and turned it into a play, The Successful Pyrate, in which all the horrid facts were left behind.
Avery, now King Arviragus of Madagascar, became the first of piracy's noble outlaws. A captured ship is brought to him. It contains the Mogul's granddaughter, the fair Zaida. Arviragus falls in love, but Zaida loves another: one of her fellow captives, the young Aranes. Disaster! Revelation! Aranes turns out to be Arviragus's long lost son.
The play opened at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in 1713, the first in a succession of pirate melodramas that went on being produced well into the 19th century, until Gilbert and Sullivan's satirical The Pirates of Penzance put an end to them. But where did writers do their research, supposing any were needed? The answer comes from the same period in a book by a Captain Johnson, who in 1724 published A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates, which ran to several editions and was translated into French.
Nobody knows who Johnson was: a theory that Daniel Defoe was the author has now been discredited. But his book became the seminal text. Out of it came the public's first appreciation of Blackbeard and Captain Kidd and the two women pirates, Mary Read and Anne Bonny. Robert Louis Stevenson consulted it, when, in a Highland cottage during the wet and chill summer of 1881, he began to devise an entertainment for his stepson. Nobody in Johnson's book says "yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum" but there is a vivid description of "a fellow with a terrible pair of whiskers, and a wooden leg, being stuck around with pistols ... swearing and vapouring on the quarter deck".
By the time Stevenson invented John Silver, real pirates were at best a folk memory in the western world. A few might survive in the South China Sea, but efficient navies had destroyed them elsewhere. Motivation had also been reduced. Pirates often fenced their stolen cargoes to smugglers, but free trade had dramatically lowered import duties and smuggling died as an occupation.
The way was open for the pirate as an antihero, the rebel against society, or simply a comic character as in Captain Hook. As Pieter van der Merwe of the National Maritime Museum says: "Blackbeard was a terrible man - a psychopath - but piracy had been effectively wiped out in the 18th century. You forgot the fact that it was a curse.'
It became a hobby. Philip Gosse, the son of litterateur and memoirist Edmund Gosse, was a doctor who collected nearly 500 books on piracy and in 1932 published an authoritative history of the subject (his library is now the Gosse collection at the National Maritime). And next it became a study, with historians anxious to revise or enlarge our previously simple ideas. Some pirates were proto-feminists and others gay (Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition, 1983). In The Many-Headed Hydra, Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker define pirate ships as "multinational, multicultural and multiracial" institutions - fine little democracies - that resisted the oppression of the capitalist merchant shipping industry. Pirates were "egalitarian, class-conscious and justice-seeking" and always shared their spoils.

For the rest gp to the source

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tomb of real Gladiator found


By Nick Pisa

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have unearthed the tomb of the Roman warrior who inspired the title role in Ridley Scott's epic Oscar-winning film Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe.Marble columns and a Latin inscription to Marcus Nonius Macrinus have been uncovered at a 1,800-year-old stone mausoleum built in his honour on the banks of the River Tiber at Saxa Rubra, not far from the headquarters of Rai, Italy's state-run television station.The site, which also includes friezes and stone blocks, was discovered as a warehouse was being demolished to make way for a housing development.The remains are located north of Rome, near the ancient road, the Via Flaminia, which once connected the city to the Adriatic, on Italy's east coast.

Although parts of the tomb have crumbled into the Tiber over the centuries, enough has been recovered during months of excavation that experts are discussing the possibility of rebuilding the tomb as the centrepiece of an archaeological theme park. This would also include the house of Empress Livia, the wife of Emperor Augustus, at Prima Porta nearby.

This villa occupied the high ground dominating the view down the Tiber valley to Rome and some of the walling that retained its terraces can still be seen. Except for the terracing – the gardens are currently being excavated – all that can be seen today are three vaulted subterranean rooms, from the largest of which the fresco decor of an illusionistic garden view was removed to Rome, where it has recently been installed in the Palazzo Massimo, following cleaning and restoration. Marcus Nonius Macrinus was from the northern Italian city of Brescia.He was consul in AD154 and proconsul of Asia from AD170 to 171. Consuls were the highest civil and military magistrates in ancient Rome.

His villa on the shores of Lake Garda is also under excavation. Macrinus was said to have been a particular favourite of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who ruled Rome between AD161 and 180, and became part of the emperor's inner circle after he won numerous battles for him.

For the rest go to the source

Memorial in Berlin for WWII Germans who helped Jews


BERLIN (AP) — The "Silent Heroes" now have a voice.
A new memorial center in Berlin pays tribute to the thousands of German gentiles who risked everything to save Jews from persecution by the Nazis and documents the stories of those who sometimes spent years in hiding.
The "Silent Heroes" memorial center opens to the public Tuesday amid a new focus in recent years on the legacy of the "good German" — those individuals who resisted Hitler and his policies, were labeled as traitors by the Nazis and were often shunned in decades after the war.
"Their accomplishments were totally forgotten, and this is an initiative to bring them back into our memory," said Johannes Tuchel, director of the German Resistance Memorial Center Foundation, which is behind the new memorial.
Some 5,000 Jews were able to survive the war in hiding in Germany but it is not clear how many people were involved in helping them, Tuchel said. Research suggests that for each person in hiding, around 10 people were involved in aiding them.
Peter Michalski, whose family went into hiding in 1944, said it was a long overdue tribute to the Germans who helped people like him escape almost certain death, even if it meant putting their own lives in jeopardy.
"Where would you be now if these people hadn't existed?" he asked contemplatively while looking at an exhibit focusing on his family's plight. "The answer is simple: We wouldn't be."
The three-room exhibition relies heavily on multimedia displays in both English and German — audio accounts, touch-screen computers focusing on 18 aspects of survival, and computers with more detailed information on those in hiding and their rescuers. Original artifacts include personal photos, diaries and letters.
The best-known subject is Oskar Schindler, whose story was made famous by Steven Spielberg's 1993 Oscar-winning film "Schindler's List," which chronicled the German businessman's efforts to shield more than 1,000 Jews from Nazi death camps by hiring them to work in his factories.

For the rest go to the source

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Battle of Agincourt...Our Finest Hour

Written by Bernard Cornwell...


Legend says the Battle of Agincourt was won by stalwart English archers. It was not. In the end it was won by men using lead-weighted hammers, poleaxes, mauls and falcon-beaks, the ghastly paraphernalia of medieval hand-to-hand fighting. It was fought on a field knee-deep in mud and it was more of a massacre than a battle.
Laurence Olivier's film of Shakespeare's Henry V shows French knights charging on horseback, but very few men were mounted at Agincourt.
The French came on foot and the battle was reduced to men hitting other armoured men with hammers, maces and axes.

A sword would not penetrate armour and did not have the weight to knock a man off his feet, but a poleaxe (a long-handled axe or hammer, topped with a fearsome spike) would fell him fast, and then it was easy to raise the victim's visor and slide a knife through an eye. That was how hundreds of men died; their last sight on earth a dagger's point.
It is not a tale of chivalry, but rather of armoured men hacking at each other to break limbs and crush skulls. At the battle's height, when Henry V expected an attack on his rear that never materialised, he ordered the newly captured French prisoners to be killed. They were murdered.
Over the weekend, during a conference at the Medieval History Museum in Agincourt, French academics met to declare that English soldiers acted like 'war criminals' during the battle, setting fire to prisoners and killing French noblemen who had surrendered. The French 'were met with barbarism by the English', said the museum's director Christophe Gilliot.
The French pronouncement smacks of bias, but what is certain is that Agincourt was filthy, horrible and merciless. Yet it is still celebrated as a golden moment in England's history.
Why do we remember it? Why has this battle galvanised English hearts over the centuries? These are questions I came to ask as I researched my new novel Azincourt - spelled as it is in France - and discovered just what an extraordinary event it was.
Part of the legend about the archers is certainly true. Most of the English army were archers and their arrows caused huge damage, although they never delivered the knock-out blow it is claimed.
Henry V was also an inspirational leader. He fought in the front rank and part of his crown was knocked off. Eighteen Frenchmen had taken an oath to kill him and all of them died at Henry's feet, slaughtered by the King or by his bodyguard. And, despite recent claims to the contrary, it seems the English were horribly outnumbered.

In the cold, wet dawn of October 25, 1415, no one could have expected Henry's army to survive the day. He had about 6,000 men, more than 5,000 of them archers, while the French numbered at least 30,000 and were so confident that, before the battle was joined, they sent away some newly arrived reinforcements. By dusk on that Saint Crispin's Day, Henry's small army had entered legend.
But the English should never have been at Agincourt, which lies 25 miles south of Calais. England was in the thick of the 100 Years' War with France, and Henry had invaded Normandy in the hope of making a quick conquest of Harfleur, a strategic port. Yet the town's stubborn defence delayed him and by the siege's end his army had been struck by dysentery.
Sick men were dying and the campaign season was ending as winter drew in. Sensible advice suggested that Henry cut his losses and sail back to England. But he had borrowed huge amounts of money to invade France and all he had to show for it was one gun-battered port. Going home looked suspiciously like defeat.
He instead marched north to Calais with probably nothing more in mind than cocking a snook at the French who, though they had gathered an army, had done nothing to relieve the brave defenders of Harfleur.

For the rest go to the source

On the Dresden Bombings

The Death Tolls are now believed to be considerably less than is often reported


For more than 60 years Britain's Bomber Command led by Arthur 'Bomber' Harris has been vilified for causing up to 500,000 deaths in the carpet bombing of Dresden during World War II.But now, after a four-year investigation, a panel of German historians has said that the true number of dead from the Allied air raids in January 1945 was between 18,000 and 25,000.They reached the figure after combing through death certificates, hitherto sealed eyewitness reports, registration cards for people made homeless and hospital records.

It now emerges that the high number of deaths from 'Operation Thunderclap' was a myth invented by the Nazis, perpetuated by Communists and re-born in the past decade to serve the aims of ultra-nationalists.The myth took form barely after the vapour trails of the bombers disappeared in the skies over the city.It suited the Nazi propaganda machine to claim that half-a-million women and children had been incinerated in the firestorm. It helped persuade a struggling population that this was awaited them all unless they fought for Nazism with their last breath.

Then the Communist East Germans perpetuated the myth, mindful that it served their purposes by showing the destructiveness of capitalism and fascism combined.In the last decade neo-Nazis have sought to keep the lie alive as they praise many of the policies of the Third Reich.By the mid 70’s historians were beginning to question the real total of casualties. Although many records lay in the still-Communist archives of Dresden, the accepted figure dropped to between 50, 000 and 150,000 deaths, based on Nazi German records and declassified Allied intelligence reports.Then, when the wall fell and more records became available, the accepted number dipped even further, to 35,000.

A fortnight ago the myth was revealed as just that. A panel of German historians tasked by the modern-day rulers of Dresden said the dead numbered between 18,000 and 25,000.They worked through miles of archived paperwork for the past four years to arrive at their figures, using death certificates, hitherto sealed eyewitness reports, registration cards for people made homeless and hospital records.The historians found most people died in cellars, suffocated when the oxygen was sucked out of their hiding place or killed by the concussion of the falling bombs.Strange climactic conditions combined to create 2,000 degree centigrade “firestorms” which whipped walls of flames through the heart of the city, incinerating everything in their path.By contrast Operation Gomorrah, the saturation bombing of Hamburg, did indeed cause at least 50,000 deaths.

Monday, October 13, 2008

US Presidential Rankings - Felzenberg View

For more on this read the excerpt in the post-gazette

Alvin Stephen Felzenberg's 20 Twenty Presidential ranking reads as follows:
(My Comments in Red)

1. Lincoln - Correct
2. Washington - 7 or 8 perhaps
3. Theodore Roosevelt - Top 10 but not #3
4. Reagan - 8th or 9th not 4 and I say that as a Reagan fan
5. Eisenhower - Not Top 10 Material...maybe 15
6. Franklin Roosevelt - Should be Second
7. Taylor - not top 20 , Grant - 20 to 30 range , McKinley - top 20 not top 10 , Truman - deserving , Kennedy - about right
12. Polk - Bang on
13. Benjamin Harrison - 22 sounds better
14. John Adams - fair enough . Jefferson - easy top 10 , Monroe - Spot on , Quincy Adams - about right , Wilson - 9 0r 10 , Bush Snr - I can live with this
20. Ford - yeah right - more like 35.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rosenberg Case Closed

Source: Houston Chronicle

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed 55 years ago, on June 19, 1953. But earlier this month they were back in the headlines when Morton Sobell, the co-defendant in their famous espionage trial, finally admitted that he and his friend Julius had both been Soviet agents.
It was a stunning admission; Sobell, now 91 years old, had adamantly maintained his innocence for more than half a century. After his comments were published, even the Rosenbergs' children, Robert and Michael Meeropol, were left with little hope to hang on to — and last week, in comments unlike any they've made previously, the brothers acknowledged having reached the difficult conclusion that their father was, indeed, a spy. "I don't have any reason to doubt Morty," Michael Meeropol told Sam Roberts of The New York Times.
With these latest events, the end has arrived for the legions of the American left wing that have argued relentlessly for more than half a century that the Rosenbergs were victims, framed by a hostile, fear-mongering U.S. government. Since the couple's trial, the left has portrayed them as martyrs for civil liberties, righteous dissenters whose chief crime was to express their constitutionally protected political beliefs. In the end, the left has argued, the two communists were put to death not for spying but for their unpopular opinions, at a time when the Truman and Eisenhower administrations were seeking to stem opposition to their anti-Soviet foreign policy during the Cold War.
To this day, this received wisdom permeates our education system. A recent study by historian Larry Schweikart of the University of Dayton has found that very few college history textbooks say simply that the Rosenbergs were guilty; according to Schweikart, most either state that the couple was innocent or that the trial was "controversial," or they "excuse what (the Rosenbergs) did by saying, 'It wasn't that bad. What they provided wasn't important.' "
Indeed, Columbia University professor Eric Foner once wrote that the Rosenbergs were prosecuted out of a "determined effort to root out dissent," part of a broader pattern of "shattered careers and suppressed civil liberties." In other words, it was part of the postwar McCarthyite "witch hunt."
But, in fact, Schweikart is right, and Foner is wrong. The Rosenbergs were Soviet spies, and not minor ones, either. Not only did they try their best to give the Soviets top atomic secrets from the Manhattan Project, they succeeded in handing over top military data on sonar and on radar that was used by the Russians to shoot down U.S. planes in the Korean and Vietnam wars. That's long been known, and Sobell confirmed it again last week.
To many Americans, Cold War espionage cases such as the Rosenberg and Alger Hiss cases that once riveted the country seem irrelevant today, something out of the distant past. But they're not irrelevant. They're a crucial part of the ongoing dispute between right and left in this country. For the left, it has long been an article of faith that these prosecutions showed the essentially repressive nature of the U.S. government. Even as the guilt of the accused has become more and more clear (especially since the fall of the Soviet Union and the release of reams of historical Cold War documents), these "anti-anti-communists" of the intellectual left have continued to argue that the prosecutions were overzealous, or that the crimes were minor, or that the punishments were disproportionate.
The left consistently has defended spies such as Hiss, the Rosenbergs and Sobell as victims of contrived frame-ups. Because such a demagogue as Sen. Joseph McCarthy cast a wide swath with indiscriminate attacks on genuine liberals as "reds" (and even though McCarthy made some charges that were accurate), the anti-anti-communists came to argue that anyone accused by McCarthy or Richard Nixon or J. Edgar Hoover should be assumed to be entirely innocent. People such as Hiss (a former State Department official who was accused of spying) cleverly hid their true espionage work by gaining sympathy as just another victim of a smear attack.
But now, with Sobell's confession of guilt, that worldview has been demolished.
In the 1990s, when it was more than clear that the Rosenbergs had been real Soviet spies — not simply a pair of idealistic left-wingers working innocently for peace with the Russians — one of the Rosenbergs' sons, Michael, expressed the view that the reason his parents stayed firm and did not cooperate with the government was that they wanted to keep the government from creating "a massive spy show trial," thereby earning "the thanks of generations of resisters to government repression."
Today, he and his brother, Robert, run a fund giving grants to the children of those they deem "political prisoners."
Ironically, if there was any government that staged show trials for political ends, it was the government for which the Rosenbergs gave up their lives, that of the former Soviet Union.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Re-thinking Gandhi

What Did Gandhi Do?
One-sided pacifist.

By David Lewis Schaefer

n the weeks leading up to Operation Iraqi Freedom, American college campuses were plastered with posters asking “What Would Gandhi Do?” The implication, of course, was that the U.S. should emulate the tactics of the celebrated Hindu pacifist who successfully led the movement for Indian independence from Britain.

The analogy, it should go without saying, overlooks major differences between the two cases. Whereas the 20th-century British were far too benign an imperial power to choose to slaughter peaceful resisters to their rule, there’s no evidence that Saddam Hussein, already responsible for the massacre and torture of hundreds of thousands of his countrymen (to say nothing of the many more who died in his aggressive wars against Iran and Kuwait) would likewise have succumbed to friendly persuasion — Jacques Chirac to the contrary notwithstanding. (It’s not that we didn’t try!)

It is interesting, in this regard, to recall how Gandhi himself responded to the evil perpetrated by one of Saddam’s role models, Adolf Hitler. In November, 1938, responding to Jewish pleas that he endorse the Zionist cause so as to persuade the British government to open Palestine to immigrants fleeing Hitler’s persecution, Gandhi published an open letter flatly rejecting the request. While expressing the utmost “sympathy” with the Jews and lamenting “their age-old persecution,” Gandhi explained that “the cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me,” since “Palestine belongs to the Arabs.” Instead, he urged the Jews to “make that country their home where they are born.” To demand just treatment in the lands of their current residence while also demanding that Palestine be made their home, he argued, smacked of hypocrisy. Gandhi even went so far as to remark that “this cry for the national home affords a colorable justification for the German expulsion of the Jews.”

Of course, Gandhi added, “the German persecution of the Jews seems to have no parallel in history,” and “if there ever could be a justifiable war in the name of and for humanity, a war against Germany, to prevent the wanton persecution of a whole race, would be completely justified.” Hitler’s regime was showing the world “how efficiently violence can be worked when it is not hampered by any hypocrisy or weakness masquerading as humanitarianism.” Nonetheless, the Hindu leader rejected that notion, since “I do not believe in any war.” And for Britain, France, and America to declare war on Hitler’s regime would bring them “no inner joy, no inner strength.”

Having rejected both the plea that Palestine should be offered as a place of refuge for the Jews and the idea that the Western democracies should launch a war to overthrow Hitler, Gandhi offered only one avenue for the Jews to resist their persecution while preserving their “self-respect.” Were he a German Jew, Gandhi pronounced, he would challenge the Germans to shoot or imprison him rather than “submit to discriminating treatment.” Such “voluntary” suffering, practiced by all the Jews of Germany, would bring them, he promised, immeasurable “inner strength and joy.” Indeed, “if the Jewish mind could be prepared” for such suffering, even a massacre of all German Jews “could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy,” since “to the God-fearing, death has no terror.”

According to Gandhi, it would (for unexplained reasons) be “easier for the Jews than for the Czechs” (then facing German occupation) to follow his prescription. As inspiration, he offered “an exact parallel” in the campaign for Indian civil rights in South Africa that he had led decades earlier. Through their strength of suffering, he promised, “the German Jews will score a lasting victory over the German Gentiles in the sense that they will have converted [them] to an appreciation of human dignity.” And the same policy ought to be followed by Jews already in Palestine enduring Arab pogroms launched against them: if only they would “discard the help of the British bayonet” for their defense, and instead “offer themselves [to the Arabs] to be shot or thrown into the Dead Sea without raising a little finger,” the Jews would win a favorable “world opinion” regarding their “religious aspiration.”

In a thoughtful personal response dated February 24, 1939, the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber — who had himself emigrated to Israel from Germany a short time earlier and combined his Zionism with earnest efforts to peacefully reconcile Jewish and Arab claims in the Holy Land — chided Gandhi for offering advice to the Jews without any recognition of their real situation. The individual acts of persecution that Indians had suffered in South Africa in the 1890’s hardly compared, Buber noted, to the synagogue burnings and concentration camps instituted by Hitler’s regime. Nor was there any evidence that the many instances in which German Jews peacefully displayed strength of spirit in response to their persecutors had exercised any influence on the latter. While Gandhi exhorted them to bear “testimony” to the world by their conduct, the fate of the Jews in Germany was to experience only an “unobserved martyrdom” without effect.

Source: National Review

Friday, September 5, 2008

Historical Lessons

This article is an 'oldie' but its message is important

Author: Tim Radford

Edward Gibbon opened chapter seven of volume one of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire with a set of characteristic sentences about power and stability and hereditary monarchy. In the cool shade of retirement, he mused, one might try to devise an imaginary form of government bestowed on the most worthy by the free and incorrupt suffrage of the whole community: experience, however, teaches otherwise.

"The army is the only order of men sufficiently united to concur in the same sentiments, and powerful enough to impose them on the rest of their fellow-citizens; but the temper of soldiers, habituated at once to violence and to slavery, tenders them very unfit guardians of a legal or even a civil constitution," he wrote.

"Justice, humanity or political wisdom, are qualities they are too little acquainted with in themselves, to appreciate them in others. Valour will acquire their esteem, and liberality will purchase their suffrage; but the first of these merits is often lodged in the most savage breasts; the latter can only exert itself at the expense of the public; and both may be turned against the possessor of the throne, by the ambition of a daring rival."

All this was a preface to the story of Maximin, the giant barbarian who seized the imperial purple from Alexander Severus in AD 235. He might have been talking about Francisco Franco of Falangist Spain, Idi Amin of Uganda, Jean-Bédel Bokassa of the Central African Republic, Leopold Galtieri of Argentina, Augusto Pinochet of Chile, the colonels who seized power in Greece from 1967-1974, or the military junta that terrorises Burma now. There, in a few elegant 18th century sentences about 3rd century Rome, is a brief and brutal lesson in the political history of the 20th century.

All scholarship has its rewards, but history is the one that might deliver the richest rewards of all: if we learn from it, we might gain from it.


Bloodiest Wars of the 20th Century

Bloodiest Wars of the 20th century
Source: Wars
Death toll alongside

1. Second World War - 20 million +
2. First World War - 8.5 million
3. Korean War - 1.2 million
4. Chinese Civil War (1945-49) - 1.2 million
5. Vietnam War - 1.2 million
6. Iran-Iraq War - 0.85 million
7. Russian Civil War - 0.8 million
8. Chinese Civil War (1927-1937) - 0.4 million
9. French Indochina 0.385 million
10. Mexican Revolution (1911-20) - 0.2 million
10(tied) Spanish Civil War - 0.2 million
12. French-Algerian War - 0.16 million
13. Afghanistan (1980-1989) - 0.15 million
14. Russo-Japanese War - 0.13 million
15. Riffian War - 0.1 million
15. First Sudanese Civil War - 0.1 million
15. Russo-Polish War - 0.1 million
15. Biafran War - 0.1 million
19 - Chaco War - 0.09 million
20. Abyssinian War - 0.075 million

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Some useful history sites

BBC History Online - For fans of World and British History (as I am). - Has a plethora of information and many links. - I love the international focus on this site.
The History Guy - A site that is very strong in US History.
HistoryWiz - A fun site.
HyperHistory Online - An ongoing project that has the potential to deliver much.
Napoleon.Org - For those that appreciate the Little Corporal.
Nostradamus - For those interested in the prophecies of the Seer.
Spartacus Educational - Great beginner site for World History.
WhoWhatWhen - An excellent Interactive timeline site.

10 Greatest British Prime Ministers of All-Time

Just my opinion........

1. Winston Churchill
2. William Gladstone
3. Benjamin Disraeli
4. Margaret Thatcher
5. Robert Peel
6. David Lloyd George
7. William Pitt
8. Robert Walpole
9. Viscount Palmerston
10. Harold Wilson

Saturday, August 23, 2008

20 Most Important Events in Central American History

Refer to the links for more detail - they have been carefully selected

1. European Invasion and the Subsequent Indian Genocide (includes the campaigns of the Spaniard Cortes)
2. Creation of the Aztec Empire
3. Creation of the Mayan Empire
4. Fall of the Mayan Empire - see NASA evidence
5. Period of Olmec Rule in Pre-European times.
6. Mexican rebellion against the Spanish and the creation of the Modern Mexican state.
7. Central American states win independence from Spain.
8. Building of the Panama Canal.
9. Key Mexican territory is lost to the US in the Mexican-American War - Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
10. Period of the Diaz regime in Mexico.
11. Invasion of Mexico by the French during the rule of Maximilian I.
12. The Proliferation of the Drug industry in Central America.
13. US attacks Mexico to capture Pancho Villa.
14. Collapse of the Somoza Regime in Nicaragua. Beginning of Sandinista rule.
15. US drive out Noriega from Panama.
16. Death Squads run riot in El Salvador.
17. The Guatemalan Civil War (post WWII).
18. Collapse of Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.
19. Soccer War between Honduras and El Salvador.
20. British Honduras gain independence and becomes Belize.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

40 Greatest Western Explorers

40 greatest Western explorers

1. Lief Ericson - discovered North America
2. Christopher Columbus - discovered West Indies
3. Vasco da Gama - visited India after rounding Africa
4. Marco Polo - reached China
5. James Cook - Crossed Antarctic circle. Visited New Zealand
6. Ferdinand Magellan/Juan Sebastian del Cano - first to Circumnavigate the globe
7. Walter Raleigh - Visited North America. Drew up plans for 13 colonies
8. Abel Tasmin - Visited Australia
9. David Livingstone - Discovered Victoria Falls and Zambezi River
10. John Cabot - reached Newfoundland
11. Robert Peary - First to reach North Pole
12. Vasco Balboa - discovered Pacific Ocean
13. John Speke - discovered Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria
14. Roland Amundsen - First to reach South Pole
15. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark - Explored American Interior
16. Bartholmew Diaz - Sailed around Cape of Good Hope
17. Eric the Red - Viking explorer who visited Greenland
18. Jacques Cartier - explored St Lawrence River
19. Robert Burke and William Wills - explored Australian Interior
20. Ernest Shackleton - explored Antarctica
21. Henry Stanley - traced the Congo River
22. Richard Burton - discovered Lake Tanganyika
23. Francis Younghusband - Explorer. Opened up Tibet to the Western World.
24. Henry Hudson - discovered Hudson's Bay
25. Simon Champlain - explored Canadian interior
26. Vitus Bering - discovered Alaska
27. Fabian von Bellinghausen - circumnavigated Antarctica
28. Mungo Park - explored the Niger River
29. Hernando de Soto - discovered the Mississippi River
30. Ponce De Leon - discovered Florida
31. Alexander Mackenzie - discovered Mackenzie River
32. Nathaniel Palmer - sighted Antarctica
33. Amerigo Verspucci - explored Venezuela.
34. Edmund Hillary - Together with the Sherpa Tenzing Norgay was the first to climb Mount Everest. Was involved as well in expedition that crossed Antarctica for the first time.
35. Robert Falcon Scott - explored the Antarctic
36. Heinrich Barth - explored Sudan
37. John Fremont - Crossed Rocky Mountains to California
38. William Baffin - Explorer. Penetrated to within 800 miles of the North Pole. Closest for 250 years.
39. Semyon Dezhnev - Cossack Explorer. Sailed around eastern part of Asia in 17th century.
40. St Francis Xavier - visited Japan

Friday, August 8, 2008

50 Most Influential Physicists/Astronomers of All-Time

1. Isaac Newton - English. Quantified and Qualified laws of motion and gravity. Invented the reflecting telescope. Explained the concept of light dispersion and co-invented the Calculus.

2. Albert Einstein - German/Swiss/American - Developed Theories of Special and General Relativity. Described Brownian Motion. Nobel Prize winner for his work on the photoelectric effect. Showed mass-energy equivalence.

3. Galileo Galilei - Italian - Discovered the law of Uniformly accelerated motion. Improved on the refracting telescope. Discovered the Four largest moons of Jupiter. Described projectile motion and the concept of weight. He is however best known for his championing of the Copernican theory of heliocentricity against church opposition.

4. Michael Faraday - Self taught English Physicist - Showed how a changing magnetic field can be used to generate an electric current. This is the Principle of Electromagnetic Induction that is used in today's electric generators. He applied this knowledge to the development of several electrical machines as well. Described principles of electrolysis. Early pioneer in the field of low temperature study

5. Johannes Kepler - German - Outlined Three fundamental laws of planetary motion. Described elliptical motion of planets around the sun. Work served as the precursor to that of Newton's.

6. Archimedes - Greek - Described concept of buoyancy. Developed formulae for the areas and volumes of spheres, cylinders, parabolas, and several other solids. Worked extensively with levers. Also invented the Archimedes screw to raise water. In warfare he developed several siege engines that served to hamper the Roman invasion of his home city of Syracuse.

7. Nikolai Tesla - Yugoslavian/American - Champion of alternating current flow (which is the means by which electric power is carried in our modern network). Improved on the dynamo, transformer and electric bulb and invented the Tesla coil.

8. Max Planck - German - Father of Quantum mechanics. Showed how the energy of a photon is proportional to its frequency.

9. James Maxwell - Scottish - Developed equations for electromagnetism and the kinetic theory of gases. He predicted that other that there were other types of radiation beyond that of visible light. Showed that light was a type of electromagnetic radiation.

10. Marie Curie - Polish - Two time Nobel Prize winner. With Henri Becquerel and her Pierre she discovered radioactivity. She also isolated Plutonium and Radium.

11. Niels Bohr - Danish - Used Quantum mechanical model to show how electron energy levels are related to Spectral lines.

12. Erwin Schrödinger - Austrian - Famous for the equation that bears his name. Describes the wave action and behaviour of matter.

13. Werner Heisenberg - German - Developed method to express Quantum mechanics in terms of matrices. Best known for his Uncertainty Principle.

14. Ernest Rutherford - New Zealander/British - Father of Nuclear Physics. Showed how the atomic nucleus has a positive charge. Was the first to change one element into another by an artificial nuclear reaction.

15. Nicolas Copernicus - Polish Monk - Wrote 400 Page treatise 'On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres' that argued that the Earth revolved around the sun. The book challenged the way the world was viewed leading to much ecclesiastical opposition.

16. Christiaan Huygens - Dutch - Developed Wave Theory of Light and discovered polarization.

17. James Joule - English - Showed that heat is a form of energy. Also demonstrated that gas expansion with no work leads to a fall in temperature. Work led to the Theory of Conservation of Energy.

18. Henry Cavendish - English - Showed that water was made up of the union of two gases. Determined the Universal Gravitation constant.

19. William Thomson Kelvin - Scottish - Major figure in Thermodynamics. Helped develop Law of Conservation of Energy. Studied Wave motion and vortex motion in hydrodynamics and produced a dynamical theory of heat.

20. Thomas Young - English - Furthered the doctrine of wave interference. Famous for his 'slit' experiments.

21. Enrico Fermi - Italian/American - Split the nucleus by bombarding it with neutrons. Built first Nuclear reactor in the US.

22. Richard Feynman - American - Known for his work on quantum electrodynamics, as well as for his visual representation of the behaviour patterns of interacting particles (Feynman diagrams).

23. Alessandro Volta - Italian - Built the first electrical battery. First scientist to do substantial work with Electric currents.

24. Heinrich Hetrz - German - Discovered radio waves and determined their velocity.

25. Benjamin Franklin - American - Worked with electricity. Defined positive and negative charges.

26. John Bardeen - American - Developed the point contact transistor (won Nobel Prize with Walter Brattain and William Shockley in 1956). Won a second Nobel Prize (1972) for work on Superconductivity (shared with Leon Cooper and John Schrieffer).

27. Georg Ohm - German - Determined law in electricity that states that current is equal to the ratio of voltage to resistance.

28. Paul Dirac - English - Developed theory of the spinning electron. Proposed the existence of anti-matter.

29. Robert Millikan - American - Determined the charge on an electron. Did vital work with Cosmic Rays.

30. Edwin Hubble - American - Discovered that the universe is expanding. Established a ratio between the rate of expansion and the distance between galaxies.

31. Pieter Zeeman - Dutch - Discovered the Zeeman effect, whereby a ray of light placed in a magnetic field is split spectroscopically into several components. This has helped physicists investigate atoms, study electromagnetic radiation and for astronomers to measure the magnetic field of stars.

32. Andre-Marie Ampere - French - Worked in field of Electrodynamics. Showed how an electric current produces a magnetic field.

33. Joseph John Thomson - English - Showed that Cathode rays were rapidly moving particles. Worked out that the mass of these individual particles (electrons) was less than 2000 times that of the atom itself.

34. Henri Becquerel - French - Discovered the natural radioactivity of uranium.

35. Louis de Broglie - French - Discovered the wave nature of electrons and particles.

36. Charles Coulomb - French - Determined that positive and negative charges attract one another and showed that the magnitude of the force diminishes with distance.

37. Georges Lemaître - Belgian - Proposed the Big Bang Theory of the origin of the Universe.

38. Christian Doppler - Austrian - Discovered that a wave's frequency changes when its source and the observer are moving relative to one another (the Doppler Effect).

38. Lise Meitner - Austrian - Discovered with Otto Hahn the radioactive element protactinium. Known for her work in Nuclear Physics she developed, with her nephew Otto Frisch, the concept of Nuclear Fission.

39. Hans Oersted - Danish - Discovered magnetic effect of an electric current.

40. Robert Boyle - Irish - Showed that the pressure and volume of a mixed mass of gas are inversely proportional. Was highly active as a Chemist as well.

41. Hendrik Lorentz - Dutch - Clarified Electromagnetic Theory of light. Developed concept of local time. Work would influence Albert Einstein.

42. Joseph von Fraunhofer - German -First to realize that dark lines in spectra of light can be used to determine makeup of celestial bodies.

43. Ludwig Boltzmann - Austrian - Father of Statistical Mechanics. Worked on the kinetic theory of gases.

44. Robert Hooke - English - Formulated the law of elasticity. Invented the balance spring, the microscope and the Gregorian telescope.

45. Evangelista Torrecelli - Italian - Inventor of the Barometer. Father of Hydrodynamics.

46. Wilhelm Weber - German - invented the electrodynamometer. First to apply the mirror and scale method of reading deflections.

47. Ernst Mach - Austrian - Showed how airflow is disturbed at the speed of sound.

48. John Wheeler - American - Theoretical physicist. Coined the terms black hole and worm hole.

49. Wilhelm Roentgen - German - Discovered x-rays.

50. Stephen Hawking - English - Noteworthy for his work in cosmology especially with respect to singularities. Predicts that a Black hole will convert its mass to radiation, then disappear.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Don't worry, kid, you don't need to know that

I am a strong champion of critical thinking but I also believe (how silly of me) that a solid foundation in facts is necessary when teaching students history. Unfortunately not all teachers are in agreement on this issue as the article reprinted from the Review Journal. shows.

"To understand and explain American exceptionalism, like it or not, it may be necessary to at least understand why aeroplanes were not used in the Civil War, why the British couldn't use the train to get back and forth between New York and Philadelphia in 1788, and why the Jackson Democrats kept making such a fuss about the National Bank.

"Nevada's Council to Establish Academic Standards was scheduled to meet July 21 to adopt new public-school history standards. When some attention was drawn to what they're up to, they promptly postponed their meeting for 'lack of a quorum.'

"Behind all the double-talk about replacing fact-driven, chronological history with a more 'thematic approach,' the unmistakable goal is to dumb down our history classes still further. The draft proposal under consideration is 'gobbledy-gook,' says Carson City School Board member (and former history teacher) Joe Enge. The stated goals are 'so broad I could drive a truck through them,' Mr. Enge says.

"Extrapolating 'themes' from history is great. But a young person cannot possibly judge -- let alone generate -- a useful interpretation of any facet of American history if he or she cannot locate the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pearl Harbor, Bunker Hill, Guadalcanal, Normandy, and Yorktown on a globe ... place them in their proper chronological order ... and name a commanding officer from at least three.
"Go ahead, ask them."

Check out the Review Journal for the rest.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Time Period: 1945-1949 (2 Quizzes and Answers)

1945-1949 (I)

1. Into how many different Regions was Germany divided into by the Allies at the end of World War II?
2. In which Country was Klement Gottwald elected Premier in 1946?
3. In which City/Town did Winston Churchill give his ‘Iron Curtain’ speech?
4. Which two parties merged in East Germany in 1946?
5. Formed in 1945, it is known as the World Bank. What is its official name?
6. Who was the First United Nations Secretary-General?
7. What did President Truman create in 1946 to regulate the Nuclear Industry?
8. In which City did the Swedish diplomat, Raoul Wallenberg, who saved countless Jewish lives during the holocaust, disappear in?
9. This energy producing industry in Britain was nationalized in 1947. Which industry was this?
10. What is the more common name for The European Recovery Program?
11. This 1947 Act was passed over President Truman’s veto. It restricted the rights of labor unions. What was this act called?
12. In 1947, the U.S. withdrew as mediator in this Country. Which Country was this?
13. This Slovakian War Leader was executed in 1947. Who was he?
14. Which Country was involved in a Civil war from 1944 to 1949 that involved such groups as EKKA, EAM/ELAS?
15. Who did American troops prevent from grabbing the Port of Trieste from Italy in 1947?

Answers to 1945-1949 (I)

1. Four regions to be controlled by France, the UK, the U.S.A., and the USSR.
2. Czechoslovakia. Gottwald would eventually become President through a communist coup d’etat in 1948.
3. Fulton, Missouri in 1946. (At Westminster College on March 5, 1946).
4. The East German Social Democrats and The Communists.
5. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
6. Trygve Lie of Norway.
7. The Atomic Energy Commision.
8. Budapest. He is thought to have been abducted by the Russians for reasons which even today are still unclear.
9. The Coal Industry.
10. The Marshall Plan.
11. The Taft-Harley Act.
12. China
13. President Tiso.
14. Greece. The war was essentially a fight between the Communists and Monarchist Partisans for control of the Country.
15. The Yugoslavs. People of Trieste would later vote by plebiscite in 1949 to join Italy.


1945-1949 (II)

1. In which Country did Mátyas Rákosi become Premier in 1947?
2. What was ‘Bizonia’? Hint: It is not a 'Sci-Fi' word.
3. This doctine was issued by the U.S. in 1947 in response to Soviet expansion what was it called?
4. Who were the four main candidates in the 1948 U.S. Election?
5. What was the main goal of The Hague Congress of 1948 that was chaired by Winston Churchill?
6. This Dutch Queen abdicated in 1948 and was succeeded by her daughter, Juliana. Who was she?
7. What did the British Citizenship Act of 1948 grant?
8. This man became U.S. Secretary of State on January 7,1949. He succeeded George Marshall. Who was he?
9. Who told the U.S. House of Representatives Un-American Activities Committee on August 2,1948 that 10 years earlier Algar Hiss, had given him secret State Department Documents to pass on to the Soviets?
10. What officially ended on May 12,1949?
11. President of the Parliamentary Council, this man proclaimed the formation of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949. Who was he?
12. Which Treaty was signed by 12 Western Nations on the April 4, 1949?
13. This man, the first U.S. Secretaty of Defense resigned in March 1949. He would later commit suicide on May 22nd of the same year. Who was he?
14. Omar Bradley was appoined by President Truman to this position in 1949. It had only recently been established by law. What was the position?
15. This man wrote an article entitled ‘The Sources of Soviet Conduct’, in 1947. It would form the basis for Truman’s Policy of Containment. Who was this Writer?

Answers to 1945-1949 (II)

1. Hungary. He was backed of course by the Soviet troops occupying Hungary.
2. The name given to the combined British and American zones in Germany which were merged on January 1,1947?
3. The Truman Doctrine. It was adopted in response to the Ciommunist insurrections in Greece and Turkey. U.S. offered to support countries threatened by communist insurgencies.
4. Harry Truman, Thomas Dewey, Henry Wallace (the darling of the leftist Democrats), and Strom Thurmond, (who gained Soputher support). Truman won with 24.1 million votes to Dewey’s 22 million.
5. To Promote European Unity.
6. Queen Wilhelmina.
7. British passports to all citizens of the Commonwealth Citizens.
8. Dean Acheson.
9. Whittaker Chambers. His would be indicted on December 15, 1948 on two counts of perjury for lying about his connection to a Soviet spy ring.
10. The Berlin Blockade by the Soviets. It had last for over a year. The airlift into West Berlin, however would only end on September 30,1949, after more than 275,000 flights had been made into West Berlin.
11. Konrad Adenauer.
12. The North Atlantic Treaty which led to the creation of NATO.
13. James Forrestal.
14. Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff.
15. George Kennan. The article was titled by 'X’ and appeared in the magazine Foreign Affairs.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

German History - Ranking of Most Important Events

1. Events of World War II.
2. Unification of Germany by Bismarck.
3. Treaty of Versailles.
4. 30 Years War. Devastation of Germany.
5. Events of World War I.
6. Adolph Hitler becomes Chancellor.
7. Frederick the Great expands Prussian Power.
8. The Berlin Wallcomes down. The End of Communism.
9. The Enlightenment.
10. Frederick Wilhelm I sets up Prussian standing army.
11. Otto I becomes Holy Roman Emperor.
12. Henry Fowler forms Saxon state.
13. Goths defeat Romans at Battle of Teutoburg Forest - 9 AD.
14. The Napoleonic Wars and the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine.
15. Frederick Barbarossa grows Saxon kingdom in Medieval times.
16. Bismarck introduces pensions and social reform.
17. Re-unification of East and West Germany in the early 1990s.
18. Failed Marxist Revolution in 1848.
19. Huns overrun Germany.
20. Nazis burns the Reichstag, instigates Nuremburg Law and clamp down on freedom of speech.
21. German re-armament after World War I.
22. Building of the Berlin Wall. Division of Germany.
23. The Nuremburg Trials.
24. West Germany helps found the Common Market.
25. German Economic miracle following World War II.
26. Teutonic Knights set up state in North Eastern Prussia.
27. Mass Migration to the US during the 17th and 18th centuries.
28. The Dreadnought Naval Race with the British prior to World War I.
29. Kaiser Wilhem II removes Bismarck as the German chancellor in 1890.
30. The Berlin Airlift.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Historical Demographics

The study of human population growths and shifts is both a fascinating topic as well as a necessary prerequisite in understanding historical dynamics.
The following is a list of some useful sites:
Shows the increase in world population via a series of Maps : 1AD to 2050AD
Has some wonderful graphics - although the analysis seems stalled in the Ehrlich Population Explosion Paradigm where global population is increasing at an increasing rate (J-Curve). Better models argue that the rate of increasing is decreasing.
Nevertheless the website does deal with such issues as human carrying capacity, the AIDS phenomenon and the Demographic Transition

Demographic Transition (refers to type of society)
Stage 1: High Birth rate but fluctuating Death rate eg. 19th century Africa
Stage 2: Declining Death Rates but High birth Rates eg. Mexico
Stage 3: Declining Birth and Death Rates: eg, US
Stage 4: Low Death and Low but fluctuating Birth Rates eg. Sweden
Historical influence of climate change on World Population

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The History of the Kabbalah

The following is an excerpt of the leader into the Jewish Virtual Library's History of the Kabbalah

Kabbalah is the name applied to the whole range of Jewish mystical activity. While codes of Jewish law focus on what it is God wants from man, kabbalah tries to penetrate deeper, to God's essence itself.
There are elements of kabbalah in the Bible, for example, in the opening chapter of Ezekiel, where the prophet describes his experience of the divine: "... the heavens opened and I saw visions of God.... I looked and lo, a stormy wind came sweeping out of the north-a huge cloud and flashing fire, surrounded by a radiance; and in the center of the fire, a gleam as of amber" (1:1,4). The prophet then describes a divine chariot and the throne of God.
The rabbis of the Talmud regarded the mystical study of God as important yet dangerous. A famous talmudic story tells of four rabbis, Azzai, Ben Zoma, Elisha ben Abuyah, and Akiva who would meet together and engage in mystical studies. Azzai, the Talmud records, "looked and went mad [and] Ben Zoma died." Elisha ben Abuyah became a heretic and left Judaism. Rabbi Akiva alone "entered in peace and left in peace." It was this episode, the later experiences of individuals who became mentally unbalanced while engaging in mystical activities, and the disaster of the false Messiah Shabbetai Zevi that caused seventeenth-century rabbis to legislate that kabbalah should be studied only by married men over forty who were also scholars of Torah and Talmud. The medieval rabbis wanted the study of kabbalah limited to people of mature years and character.
The most famous work of kabbalah, the Zohar, was revealed to the Jewish world in the thirteenth century by Moses De Leon, who claimed that the book contained the mystical writings of the second-century rabbi Simeon bar Yochai. Almost all modern Jewish academic scholars believe that De Leon himself authored the Zohar, although many Orthodox kabbalists continue to accept De Leon's attribution of it to Simeon bar Yochai. Indeed, Orthodox mystics are apt to see Bar Yochai not so much as the Zohar's author as the recorder of mystical traditions dating back to the time of Moses. The intensity with which Orthodox kabbalists hold this conviction was revealed to me once when I was arguing a point of Jewish law with an elderly religious scholar. He referred to a certain matter as being in the Torah, and when I asked him where, he said: "It's in the Zohar. Is that not the same as if it was in the Torah itself?"
The Zohar is written in Aramaic (the language of the Talmud) in the form of a commentary on the five books of the Torah. Whereas most commentaries interpret the Torah as a narrative and legal work, mystics are as likely to interpret it "as a system of symbols which reveal the secret laws of the universe and even the secrets of God" (Deborah Kerdeman and Lawrence Kushner, The Invisible Chariot, p. 90). To cite one example, Leviticus 26 records "a carrot and a stick" that God offers the Jewish people. If they follow his decrees, He will reward them. But if they spurn them, God will "set His face" against the people: "I will discipline you sevenfold for your sins...." and "I will scatter you among the nations" (26:28, 33). At the chapter's conclusion, God says: "Yet, even then, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or spurn them so as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them, for I am the Lord, their God" (26:44).

For more go to

Source of image (Ten Sefirot) : Ucalgary

1960's Quiz

The 1960s

1. On August 11, 1966 Indonesia signed a peace-deal ending three years of bush war with this Southeast Country. Which Country is this?
2. This man killed 12 people at The University of Texas in Austin, before being shot dead by a policeman. Who was this man?
3. This U.S. built fighter plane, used by the German Air Force in the 1960s, was noted for its many crashes. What was the plane?
4. Army colonels took power in which Country in 1967?
5. What did Jack Ruby die of?
6. This American Nazi Leader was shot dead in Arlington, Va in 1967. Who was he?
7. This daughter of Stalin fled to the West in 1967. What was her name?
8. In 1967, the Queen met these estranged relatives in public. Who were they?
9. This European enclave voted overwhelmingly to stay with Britain in September 1967. Name this enclave?
10. Che Guevara was shot dead in the jungle of this South American Country. Which Country is this?
11. Who wrote a book about mankind called The Naked Ape?
12. British troops left this port in Southern Yemen in 1967, after 128 years of colonial rule. Name this
13. This Liberal Leader took power in Czechoslovakia in January 1968. Who was he?
14. This American ‘spy ship’ was seized by the North Koreans in 1968. What was this ships name?
15. Who was the U.S. Secretary of State in January 1968?

Answers to The 1960s

1. Malaysia
2. Charles Whitman.
3. The Starfighter.
4. Greece
5. A blood clot to the lung. He was suffering from cancer.
6. Lincoln Rockwell.
7. Svetlana Alliluyeva (give yourself one point if you just got Svetlana).
8. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
9. Gibralter
10. Bolivia
11. Desmond Morris.
12. Aden
13. Alexander Dubcek.
14. Pueblo
15. Dean Rusk.

Modern African History Quiz I

What are the modern names of these African Countries/Territories:

1. Portuguese West Africa.
2. Bechuanaland
3. German East Africa.
4. Dahomey
5. Northern Rhodesia.
6. French Guinea.
7. German South West Africa.
8. Gold Coast.
9. Upper Volta.
10. Nyasaland
11. Rio De Oro.
12. French Somaliland.
13. Southern Rhodesia.
14. British East Africa.
15. Spanish Guinea.

Answers to Modern African History I

1. Angola
2. Botswana
3. Tanzania
4. Benin
5. Zambia
6. Guinea
7. Namibia
8. Ghana
9. Burkina Faso.
10. Malawi
11. Western Sahara.
12. Djibouti
13. Zimbabwe
14. Kenya
15. Equatorial Guinea

Friday, July 18, 2008

Just the Facts II - The Hittites

I have always found Ancient History fascinating (although for that matter I find most History fascinating). However Ancient History is unique in that it relies so much on archeaological discoveries and puzzle solvingf to elucidate its chronologies, patterns of events and interpretations. In an earlier post I discussed the Mespotamians - today's post focuses on the Hittites.

  • Dominated Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) between 1750 and 1180 BC
  • Hittite History is divided into three kingdoms: Old (1750-1500BC), Middle(1500-1430BC) and the New(1430-1180BC)
  • Were a relatively open minded and liberal civilization in comparisson to those of Mesppotamia - Hittite Laws rarely made use of the death penalty
  • Had many deities in fact the Hittites were called the 'people of the thousand gods'. These included: Arinna - the sun goddess, Tarhunt - god of thunder who battles the serpent Illuyanka and Ishara - the goddess of the oath
  • Famous leaders include: Labarnas II(unified people - set up capital at Hattusa), Musilis (grandson of Labarnas - won control of Syrian trading routes and reached Babylon), Suppiluliumas I (defeated Mittanian kingdom - set up Hittite Empire), Muwattlalis (Rival of Egyptian pharaoh Ramases II - fought Ramases' trrops to a stalemate at Kadesh) and Hattusillis III (concluded peace treaty with the Egyptians)
  • The city of Troy is believed to be a Hittite vassal state
  • Its Empire was bought down by attacks from the Sea People and Archaen Greeks.
  • Smaller Hittite kingdoms in Syria and Asia minor surived until the seventh century BC.
  • Kingdoms were finally overrun by the Neo-Assyrian Empire.
  • The Hittites spoke an Indo-European language
  • The Hittites should not be confused with Hattians an earlier population that occupied thec Asia Minor region
  • Hittites are thought to be an influential force in driving the Iron Age. They were well known for their chariot construction.
  • Some useful sites on the Hittites include: - has a King's list and an excellent Map of theHittite Empire; and
  • The Hittites are mentioned in the Bible - in Genesis Abraham buys land from a Hittite for example, Esau marries a Hittite woman. They are also mentioned in Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Chronicles, Kings, Ezekiel and Ezra. For more read:D. J. Wiseman, Peoples of the Old Testament Times, Clarendon Press, Oxford (1973)
  • Like the Mespotamians the Hittites used cuneiform letters
  • The Hittites are thought to have had the first constitutional monarchy
  • Another imporant Hittite city was that of Nesa

Monday, July 14, 2008

French Revolution - Quiz II

Its Bastille Day in France - which means that its time for another French Revolution Quiz.

French Revolution II

1. What did the Third Estate form on June 17, 1789?
2. Whose dismissal on the 12th of July 1789 ignited hostility on the streets of Paris?
3. What is the claim to fame of Marquis de Launay?
4. Who was in placed charge of the National Guard soon after the riots of Paris?
5. What was issued on 27 August 1789?
6. What was the ‘Great Fear’?
7. To the nearest 3 million, what was the population of France at the time of the Revolution?
8. To which building did the crowd go to immediately before attacking the Bastille?
9. Which foreign regiment assisted in the defense of the Bastille?
10. What was declared dead on the 4th August 1789?
11. What was mortmain?
12. To whom was the tithe paid?
13. What event occured on October 5-6, 1789?
14. To what Parisian Palace did Louis XIV and his family return to after the event mentioned in
Question 13?
15. What profession were Vernet, Gérard, Vien, and Fragonard all members of?

Answers to French Revolution II

1. The National Assembly. The National Assembly would create a French Constitution on July 9, 1789.
2. Jacques Necker’s.
3. He was governor of the Bastille when it was stormed on the 14th July 1789. De Launay would be killed and his head placed on the end of a pike.
4. Marquis of Lafayette.
5. Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen - proclaiming liberty of thought, property, press and freedom from arbitrary imprisonment.
6. A fear amongst the peasantry of an aristocrat and military backlash against the people, that followed the Storming of the Bastille.
7. Twenty-five million of which 24 belonged to the Third Estate.
8. The Invalides to obtain weapons.
9. The Swiss Guards.
10. The Ancien Régime with the abolishment of privileges.
11. A condition of feudal servitude that made it possible in Ancien Régime times for a serf to sell their own property.
12. The Church.
13. The March of the Women on Versailles.
14. Tuileries
15. They were all famous artists, who were politically involved at the time?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Famous Historians Quiz

Famous Historians

Who wrote the following Books or series of Books?

1. Hitler and Stalin - Parallel Lives
2. The Guns of August
3. A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in The White House
4. The Trouble Makers
5. History of England from the Accession of James II
6. The Creators
7. The Decline of the West
8. Conquest of Mexico
9. The Rise of Christian Europe
10. D. Day and Citizen Soldiers
11. The Mediterranean and The Mediterranean World at the Time of Philip II
12. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
13. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
14. On Heroes, Hero - Worship and the Heroic in History
15. The Holocaust - The Destruction of European Jewry 1933-1945

Answers to Famous Historians
1. Alan Bullock.
2. Barbara Tuchman.
3. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
4. A. J. P. Taylor.
5. Thomas Macauley.
6. Daniel Boorstin.
7. Oswald Spengler.
8. William Prescott.
9. Hugh Trevor-Roper.
10. Stephen Ambrose.
11. Fernand Braudel.
12. Edward Gibbon.
13. William Shirer.
14. Thomas Carlyle.
15. Nora Levin.

Winston Churchill Quiz

Winston Churchill

1. Where was Churchill born?
2. What was his mother’s maiden name?
3. Against which forces did he fight against in Sudan?
4. During which war was he captured, imprisoned, and then escaped?
5. What constituency was he elected to represent in Parliament in 1900?
6. Which party did Churchill join in 1904?
7. Which position did Churchill hold between 1924 and 1929?
8. Why was Churchill excluded from The War Cabinet in 1915?
9. Which position did he assume when war broke out with Germany on the September 3, 1939?
10. What Charter did Churchill help shape in 1941 ?
11. How many volumes make up his series of books, The Second World War?
12. What did Churchill receive in 1963?
13. Of which famous military figure did Churchill write a biography of during the period 1929-1939?
14. How old was Churchill when he died?
15. There was another Winston Churchill who lived between 1871 and 1947. What was the profession of this other Winston Churchill?

Answers to Winston Churchill

1. Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England.
2. Jennie Jerome.
3. The Dervishes.
4. The Anglo-Boer War.
5. Oldham
6. The Liberals.
7. Chancellor of the Exchequer.
8. He was held responsible for the failed attempt to open the Dardanelles and The Ruinous Galipoli Campaign.
9. First Lord of the Admiralty.
10. The Atlantic Charter with the U.S.
11. Six Volumes.
12. United States Citizenship through an act of Congress.
13. John Churchill, his ancestor (aka Duke of Marlborough).
14. Ninety-one.
15. He was a Historical Novelist.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Great Danes

In my opinion the ten most important Danes of All-Time

1. Niels Bohr - Physicist. Developed the Bohr model of the atom.
2. Soren Kierkegaard - Philosopher
3. Hans Christian Andersen - Writer of Children’s stories
4. Hans Christian Oersted - Physicist - discovered magnetic effect of electric current.
5. Canute - Medieval King of England and Denmark. United two countries.
6. Christian III - 16th century Danish King. Bought Reformation to the country.
7. Vitus Bering - Explorer. Discovered Bering Sea.
8. Henrik Dam - Biochemist. Discovered vitamin K.
9. Christian X - King of Denmark during World War II. Figure of resistance to German ocupation.
10. Johannes Bronsted - Chemist. Main achievement occurred in the field of Acids and Alkalines.

French Revolution - Quiz I

The French Revolution

1. What nationality was Jacques Necker?
2. What was the currency in France that was being used c. 1780?
3. Besides Necker name two of the three other finance ministers who worked to secure National solvency?
4. What was the ‘lettre de cachet’?
5. What two wars had effectively bankrupted France by 1785?
6. Who was the editor of the Encyclopédia?
7. Three French philosophers from the Enlightenment are often considered to be driving forces behind the Revolution. Name two of them?
8. What was called by the Louis XVI on the 8th August 1788 to meet on May 1st 1789?
9. Who wrote the Pamphlet ‘What is the Third Estate’?
10. Why did the First and Second Estate want Separate Estate sessions and a block vote by Estate?
11. What ‘jewel’ related incident had earlier in her reign tarnished the reputation of Marie Antoinette?
12. Which famous event happened on the 20th June 1789?
13. This famous astronomer was chosen on June 3rd 1789 to head the Third Estate. Who was he?
14. What disease did the Dauphin die of in 1789?
15. Which sub-class made up most of the political representatives of the Third Estate?

Answers to French Revolution

1. He was Swiss.
2. The livres.
3. Jacques Turgot, Charles-Alexandre de Calonne and Archbishop Etienne de Brienne.
4. A warrant issued by the king that could result in imprisonment without trial. It was usually invoked to suppress criticism of the crown.
5. The ‘Seven Years War’ and the American Revolution.
6. Denis Diderot. The Encyclopédia was a major work of the Enlightenment. By its very nature, it contained anti-absolutist overtones which contributed to the intellectualism of the Revolution.
7. Charles Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire.
8. The Estates-General. It had last been called in 1614.
9. Abbé Sieyes, he would later gain notoriety in the Revolutionary Government.
10. So the two of them together could outvote the Third Estate.
11. The Affair of the Necklace.
12. The Taking of the Tennis Court Oath. The Third Estate agreed not to disperse until a new constitution had been implemented.
13. Jean-Sylvain Bailly. He would conduct himself admirably, but would lose popularity when he ordered the National Guard to fire on anti-royalist crowds. As an astronomer he is famed for writing the ‘Histoire de l’astronomie’ (1775-1787).
14. Tuberculosis
15. The Bourgeoisie.